What’s A Vi? Why Vi?

Admittedly this is for your geek cred.

If you run Windows, or Mac, and you’re happy in that environment, I really doubt you will ever need Vi.

On the other hand, I took a look at it again and found this particular piece of software to be very useful.

In short, “Vi” is a text editor that runs on Unix, Linux, FreeBSD.  It is available for the Mac and Windows.  Basically any computer that you use that you need an editor, you can find someone who took the time and care to bring the Vi Experience to you. 

I’m sure some demented soul brought Vi to Android, and maybe even your iPad. 

That’s the Pro.  The biggest Con I can think of is that it is not user friendly.  In fact I found it bloody maddening to use when I first started to learn it.  Once I got used to it, it was second nature within about a week.  Yes, week.  Or longer.  

Remember this was back in the 80s when a home computer was weird.

You see this was designed as a really basic text editor for back in the day software.  You know, command lines?  Unix before anyone ever really started using Linux. 

If you are using Windows, you have a rather powerful text editor already called Notepad.  I can’t think of anything off hand that Vi can do that Notepad can’t with text files. 

My favorite thing to do with Vi was to repeat the last command by hitting the period.  It would happily just keep doing that as long as you had your finger down on the period key.  Over and over.  Want a page of text?  Just keep repeating it.  Great for programmers.  Not so much for Mom or Pop.

Even that is built into windows, just copy and paste.  Then keep repeating the paste command.

  • Ctrl+c will copy the highlighted text into the clipboard.
  • Crtl+x will “cut” that highlighted text.
  • Ctrl+v will paste the copied/cut text into the document at the place your cursor is “anchored”.

So why go to the trouble learning Vi?

In my own case, I use Linux on a daily basis.  Linux even has a really wonderful graphical text editor called “gedit”.  It looks an awful lot like Notepad, so all the “regular” actions work like a champ there.  But there are times where you are on a Linux system without the graphical user interface like a Server.  Now you’re banging around on a server with no graphical user interface thinking “why didn’t they install one?” and need to edit a text file.  Remember the old “.ini” files?  Linux uses a lot of those things in the background, and yes, I’ve had to edit them using Vi.

If you really do want to bang your head against the wall repeatedly, you can use the Vi I downloaded from this website.

Why would you want to use Vi?

Education perhaps?  Challenge yourself to do something new to you.  Earn your geek cred.

A really concrete reason is that this particular program called WinVi has a really nice built in Hex Editor.  Hex editors are one of those things that if you need it, you need it NOW and you need it BAD.  Like a canteen in the desert, it’s that important, but how often have you been in the desert and needed a drink.

Plus it’s fun to see what someone has hidden in files sometimes.  You know, curiosity sake?  I went into a file that was connected with Internet Explorer 4 way back when that was new and I was still using Netscape and hacked it.  Every time IE 4 would start, I had it put up a message in the title bar that “Internet Explorer Stinks”.

Ok, something more rude than that, but you get the picture.  You just can’t have that kind of fun with Notepad.

What’s A Virtual Machine?

Wanting to write about something is one thing.  Wanting to write about something that will be read is another.  Getting too techie is a sure fire sign that you’re writing something that is “TL/DR” – too long/ Didn’t read.

But on the other hand, I was asked “What is a virtual machine anyway?” by someone in a social setting.   It was phrased a bit differently than that but here we go.  Hopefully it won’t be TL/DR.

The idea is that you are looking at this on a browser running on a computer.   Statistics say it’s probably Windows since this is where I get about 2/3 of my readers.  That means it is most likely a PC.

PCs are wonderful things that run something called Software.  Software can make your PC do things like play Solitaire, Surf the Web, listen to music, and make pretty pictures.

What if a piece of software simply “looked like” a computer?

Now you have a computer inside a computer.  

Add an operating system to that computer inside of a computer and now you have a computer running inside a computer that you can actually DO things with.

That’s it.  That simple.

Why would you want to do that?  At home you may have one computer in the house.  This is less likely now, but back in the last 20 years that was the way it was.  A desktop PC sat in a corner with a monitor and it was shared.  What if that desktop PC had a virtual computer for each person on it?  Now your stuff and my stuff would not get mixed up.   If you got a virus, I wouldn’t.  That’s what you get when you surf “Those” websites.

Keeping things simple, there are other ways to use this thing in a home environment.

By now we all have an “Old Computer”.  I know people who are paranoid and don’t want to give those machines away so they end up having a closet full of computers that date back into the 80s.

Since the days of Windows XP, oh so many weeks ago, you could clear that closet up by running a piece of software that would create a virtual computer out of the old computer.  Basically now you have copy of that old computer running in a window on your newer computer.

That is how I get rid of my old machines – make a virtual computer so I don’t lose the software.  Why pay for that software again when you can’t find the install CD and it already works well on that creaky old computer?  After all it’s only 20 GB right?

Companies do this sort of thing all the time.  They create a server that is intended to house all these machines in a closet and “host” them all.  It saves space and a lot of power. 

The down sides are that if that computer is damaged (power spikes will murder a PC), you lose every one of those machines if they weren’t backed up.  Also, you have to have a legal license to that computer.  You can’t just make virtual computers with Windows or Mac OSX for free.  Linux isn’t a problem and I make virtual computers with Linux all the time. 

The way I am currently using virtual machines is like this.

My laptop is running Windows 7.  I have a copy of something called “VMWare Player”.  That will let me create and run virtual machines.  I installed a copy of Ubuntu Linux into it.  I then installed all sorts of things like Database (MySQL), a Web Server (Apache), and a programming language (PHP).  When I could serve websites with it to my home network, I then installed a copy of a Contact Management Software called SugarCE.  It all works like a champ, it’s all free, and fits really well on my lap.

Like I said, it’s a very basic answer to a basic question that can be quite complex.  Probably more involved than a basic answer, but that’s a start…

Flea Marketing in the Sun

The problem with going to a flea market is that you’re going to find something you want.

I have never gone home empty handed.

Part of that is because the really good ones, I mean truly good ones, always have fruit and vegetable there.


Hit that part last.  You know you really did want that flat of strawberries in season.  After all, you’re on your way home.  You may get stuck in traffic.  It’s a long drive.  Maybe six or seven miles.  You’ll need sustenance.  Trust me on that one.   You need strawberries.

They are a great place to find oddball items that you didn’t know you needed.  Just like those strawberries, you may just need that pair of neon sunglasses from the mid 1980’s.  Why?  Well just because they’re awesome just like you are.

My problem is that I’m too handy for my own good.  Walking along the box farms of new things that you can get for ONE DOLLAR!  ONE DOLLAR!  you can find things that may just be missing a little something but you really did need.  The stand mixer with the frayed cord or the picture frame with someone’s aunt from 1943 in it may just need a little polishing and there you have it.  A new heirloom.

I’ve repaired more things than I can count.  I’m “That Guy” that has taken “dead” rechargeable screwdrivers and breathed new life into it by removing the old dead battery and placing a new set of cells in it.  Yes, with a soldering iron and having the scene from Young Frankenstein in my head, I’ve pressed the button and said “It’s ALIVE!” when the thing whirred to life.

Every time I go to one I remember after I got there that bringing a couple AA Batteries might have been a good idea. 

On the other hand I’ve been told that on no uncertain terms do I need a hand held TV set from the old Analog TV days whether it was Cool! or not!

I learned one important fact about these places.  They are a shelter.

Having gone up and down the aisles in the South Florida Sun, sipping on some bottled water and casually eating a piece of fruit, I spotted them.

No, not the stall with the birds chattering loudly wanting to be anywhere but there. 

This was the shelter for Hello Kitty merchandise.   Where else but a large flea market will you find not one but four red Hello Kitty Refrigerators all stacked in a row.  I don’t know what you would actually DO with a candy apple red Hello Kitty refrigerator.  In fact, I don’t know anyone who would be able to tell me a good reason why you want a cartoon cat stenciled on the side of a underpowered refrigerator, but they were there.   Four in a row.  In the sun.  In their original carton.  Looking incongruous.

Among all the old hand tools, things from Grandma’s Attic, and out of date foods, there was the row.  I could almost hear the chorus eternal singing an Ahhhhh! sound in the background as I approached the little red boxes that were sitting there.

Thinking I had lost my mind momentarily, I drew another sip of water from my bottle, had another strawberry, and walked rapidly away from the row of refrigerators.

What to my wandering eye did appear?  No, not a reindeer, but more Hello Kitty merchandise.  Yes, I would have been able to wrap the entire town’s collection of older iPhones in a strange silicone rubber case with a white faced cat.

The sun must have been getting to me.  I turned back to reality and sanity and went back to looking for what I had originally come for.  Sunglasses.

Sunglasses are a requirement in South Florida.  You may never use them “today” but there will be a day you do.  As long as they’re marked Polarized and UV400, you’re fairly safe.  So leaning over the stall, I reached down to find a pair of mirrored wrap arounds with a black frame just like the pair I had on and saw them.

A pair of Hello Kitty sunglasses.

Ok, I’m out.  No more kitties, hello or otherwise.   It’s has to be a mirage.  Let me get some more produce and we’re done.

Blasted cats.

Silence of the Oscars

9:30pm Sunday around the Drive here in Wilton Manors has a certain rhythm.

The bars are busy but not crazy.  You can actually go in and get a drink, even find free parking.  The cars usually are not cycling through the neighborhood too badly.  You know when the specials are at the businesses and the bars because the parking lots ebb and flow into and out of the neighborhood.

It’s a suburban or even urban area, although I’m not sure what the distinction is in South Florida.  Since I have grass on all sides of my house, I’ll stick with Suburban.

You know your neighbors, perhaps better than a passing wave.  You know when the pool guy down the block is going to pass by on the way out and when he’s coming home.

Living on next to a business district assumes you’re welcoming the entertainment, expecting a distraction occasionally, and are willing to get to know the owners or at least the security guards.

When we went out for the dog walk, the last one of the day, it was silent.

“Hey listen!”
“It’s quiet!”
“Well yeah, it’s quiet, but it’s Sunday night.  Come on, lets walk Lettie…”
“No, I mean Quiet.”

I took a good listen and he was right. Even a good block away from the bars, you could tell that this was going to be a down night.  I haven’t set foot in them yet this year, probably since last Fall, but I knew this was going to be a quiet Sunday Evening.

“It must be the Oscars”
“Do you really think so?  Are they that big of a deal?”
“Apparently.  We’re not into it but the Oscar Parties must be in full swing.”

Looking at the neighbor’s houses I noticed that the only places that felt alive were the ones with more than the usual cars in the driveways, lights were on and somebody was home.

“Funny, all that glitteratti nonsense never really appealed to us, but I guess for some folks, it is High Drama.”
“Yeah, there’s just too much fluff in the Oscars for me to want to bother.”
“Not enough entertainment, ironically.”

By the time we convinced Lettie it was time to turn into the parking lot for the Shoppes and head back to the house, we realized that they weren’t having a busy night.  Sure the dance bar was busy enough, but you could actually find a space for your car right in front when we walked by. 

Puts things in perspective.  The neighborhood was actually noisier this morning when I got up to walk the dog at 5:30 than it was at 9:30 the night before.

Down the block the pool guy was filling his truck.  The cats were out warming themselves on the pavement.  The birds were singing to the not yet risen sun trying to wake those still in bed.

The rhythm of the city was reestablishing itself, and all was back to normal. 

A Cop Visits Lover’s Lane – Humor

A cop is working 3rd shift. He decides to drive up to Lookout Point to see if any funny business is happening. Once he arrives he sees 1 car. He shuts the lights off and pulls behind the parked car. He gets out of his patrol car, slowly walks up to the parked car and notices a male in the driver’s seat and a female in the back seat. Curious about what could be going he notices the male reading a magazine and the female knitting a sweater! He walks up to the window and wraps on the glass.

The driver rolls down the window and says “Yes Officer?”
“What are you doing young man?”
“Why reading a Sports Illustrated Sir.”
“And the girl in the back?”
“Why she’s knitting a sweater isn’t it obvious?”

Well this is the strangest situation the cop has come across in a long time. He decides to get to the bottom of it.

“Son, how old are you?”
“I am 21 Sir.”
“And the girl?”
The boy looks at his watch and says “In 11 minutes she’ll be 18.”

Two Ex Wife Jokes

Ok, sure, it’s an old topic, the Ex.  You can always change the pronouns if you don’t like Ex Wife Jokes, but here are two short ones for you.

Drunken mistake
A completely inebriated man walked into a bar and, after staring for some time at the only woman seated there, walked over to her and began kissing her passionately.

She jumped up and slapped him silly.
He immediately apologized and explained, “I’m sorry. I thought you were my wife. You look exactly like her.”
“Why you drunken, worthless, insufferable fool!” she screamed.
“That’s funny,” he muttered, “you even sound exactly like her!”

Tim decided to tie the knot with his long time girlfriend. 

One evening, after the honeymoon, he was assembling some loads for an upcoming hunt.
His wife was standing there at the bench watching him.

After along period of silence she finally speaks. “Honey, I’ve been thinking, now that we are married I think it’s time you quit hunting, shooting, hand-loading ammo, and fishing. Maybe you should sell your guns and boat”.

Tim gets this horrified look on his face.
She says, “Darling, what’s wrong?”
”There for a minute you were sounding like my ex-wife.”
“Ex wife!”, she screams, “I didn’t know you were married before!”

”I wasn’t “

Easy Crock Pot Curry Recipe

First off, no picture.  It’s by design.  You see most recipes that have rice cooked in the crockpot look odd.  This one is no exception.  Rice tends to just dissolve into a paste that looks “Already Been Chewed”.

On the other hand, this was quite good, and savory.  It was not at all “spicy”.  There are as many curry recipes as there are cooks.  Thai Curry is different from Chinese Curry, and both are different from Indian Curry.  This recipe I used McCormick’s Curry Powder.  It’s mild, has a savory flavor, and will perfume the house with a nice scent.  It doesn’t linger or make you have spicy acid flashbacks.

While the Raisins are optional, they really aren’t.  They add a little sweetness to the savory mix that is really welcome.  If you truly hate raisins, well sorry, you can leave them out, but I recommend adding them into the pot.  In fact, next time, I’ll double the raisins since I personally like them.  They also soak up some of the liquid in the mix so if you do leave them out, adjust how much water you add.

You’ll note that it says “Curry Recipe” and not “Curried Chicken”?  That’s because this will work with any mild meat or Tofu.  In fact, I think this would work well as a vegetarian meal using Quorn as a substitute.   Quorn tastes like chicken or turkey.   If you’re a veggie, it’s worth a shot since it is so simple.  Just make sure you use vegetable stock instead of the chicken stock this calls for.

Ok, here goes.


  • 4 pounds of thawed chicken parts.  About 4-6 breasts or 8 to 12 thighs
  • 1 Can Cream of Mushroom soup
  • 1/2 Cup of water
  • 1 1/2 Cup Chicken Broth/Stock
  • Up To 2 cups of frozen green beans, Thawed and optional.
  • 3/4 Cup Uncooked Rice.
  • 1 teaspoon Curry Powder for mild, more if you prefer.
  • 1/2 cup Raisins

Add Chicken parts to the pot.
Add Cream of Mushroom Soup and water.
Add the rest of the ingredients.
Give it all a good stir.
Cook in crockpot for at least 6 hours at low or until chicken is tender and reaches an appropriate temperature. 
My chicken thigh packets said cook to 180F.

DEET Only Deters Mosquitos First Time

I knew it.  I knew Mosquito Deterrents only worked for a short while.   Now I have scientific proof.

I guess I’ll just have to go find a really big hamster ball.

The story is that if I used a mosquito deterrent spray to keep the little nasties off me, they would work only for a short time, then I’d be back to swatting.  The reason is that DEET, which is the chemical that was developed for the US Army back in WWII, would get in the bug’s antennas.   The receptors would get clogged up, and the mosquitoes would ignore the DEET on the second go.

Think about it.  You spray yourself with that Deep Woods Off, you expect to be able to go outside and have a good time.  If the wind is low, and you are in a crowd, that may not work.   The mosquitoes will go to the next guy for a while, and you’re fine.   But after being exposed to your repellent, and not finding something, they home in on your own Carbon Dioxide, and you’re being bit.  In a breeze, the bugs that got exposed to DEET would be blown away on the breeze and fresh, unexposed mosquitoes would be the next in line and be repelled until that breeze stops.

That is completely within my own experience.   I’m the mosquito buffet in a crowd.  I’ll go out lathered in that goop and still get bit. 

Sometimes, just knowing what you are up against is half the battle.  Besides, I think it would be fun to play in a giant hamster ball on top of the waves on the ocean.   Maybe tow it behind a boat?  Bounce off the wake?

The whole story was on the BBC today, here at this link.

That’s a load off my mind, even if it means I’m still going to be bit.

Bread That Last 60 Days Cuts Waste

Going through the news on the BBC can turn up some items you don’t expect to read.  Its essential “Britishness” adds a dimension that one living in South Florida wouldn’t expect to read about. 

After all, when is the last time you were at a proper Tea?

The problem with that Tea is that some things turn stale after a while, so the recipes that are traditional in one area, any area, may not work in another.   Sourdough Bread in San Francisco is phenomenal, but the yeasts that grow in that cool and wet climate would not do well in South Florida because of the warm and wet climate we have here.  As a result, “real” San Francisco Sourdough Bread is different than Sourdough that is baked in Chicago, Philadelphia, or anywhere else without their micro-climate.

Instead, we have different things like molds and iguanas that fall from the trees when it gets cold.

Bread seems to turn stale faster here, as a result of our climate. 

Someone here in the US is working on a solution to that, and they claim that by the use of Microwaves that are somehow “modulated” in a special way, you can get a loaf of bread to last 60 days without spoilage.

I would expect that a 60 day old bread slice would be dried out whether it is mold free or not.   Plus the occasional lizard that sneaks into the house might have a sample. 

The Bread Box isn’t all that practical when you live here as a result.

The reason why bread doesn’t turn stale is that commercial bread bakeries often pump their recipes full of an alphabet soup of chemicals.  They change the flavor of the bread, and you end up with something with an odd taste, or no taste at all.  But it will last more than a day or three which is something that I can’t really say about my own breads that I bake at home, or some of the wonderful artisan breads that you can get when you step away from that stuff that is in a plastic bag with polka dots on it.

Of course they never consulted the people who make the bread for Mc Donald’s hamburgers.  There’s a rather famous, or infamous, study where someone took Fries and a Mc Donald’s hamburger and left it on a plate.

For 12 years.

It was untouched visibly.

Not even the bugs in the house would go near the stuff.  It dried out, looks normal, but has an odd smell about it. This link talks about a 12 year old Mc Donald’s Hamburger.

I think I’ll stick with making my own bread rolls.   Much better for me.  As for the microwave technique, it’s “in testing” and may be rolled out eventually. 

With butter.

Ultrasound Mosquito Deterrents do not work!

Blasted things.   Mosquitoes.  I hate them.

But unfortunately, they love me.

I am a mosquito deterrent, at least for you.  I’m that guy that is swatting the little blighters while everyone around is looking confused because they’re not getting bit.  I have “Sweet Blood” or whatever you wish to call it, but the nasty creatures seek me out.

I was even getting bit inside the house when I forgot to change the water in a “rooting cup” that I had some cuttings in when Momma Mosquito found it, laid her eggs, and her minions came out to bite me.

Yes, the ones who bite are ALWAYS female.  The guys just want to find flowers and suck nectar for their food.  You’re safe.

I’ve tried sprays.  Deep Woods anything… Doesn’t work.  At least for me.  Plus I’m not comfortable turning my skin into a toxic waste dump for a half hour of protection.

I’ve tried submerging myself.   If I’m relaxing in the pool or the hot tub, we put this massive fan on that blows a gust across the water, then I get as low as I can so there is less surface area.   Still they find me and turn my head into an airport that they’re approaching for a landing.

I’ve had one fly into my eye and get lodged under my eye lid.   One of the problems with inline skating 21,000 miles like I had is that you eat a lot of bugs.  Don’t ask.

The best thing I found is to simply wear long pants, and don’t go outside just after sunrise or within an hour or two of sunset.  Stay out in the sun because that dries the nasty creatures up.   Drain everything, don’t let water collect under pots.   Kind of a problem here since there’s a drip feed irrigation system that runs each day for the orchids.

I tried the little ultrasound things that make a high pitched EEEEE! sound.   I didn’t think they worked either.   They annoy the dogs though, so since my own Lettie is almost deaf, I use one to keep other dogs away from us.  She’s old and doesn’t want or need the contact so they stay away to the confusion of their owners.

I did find out that there have been tests of these devices.  Even the smartphone apps don’t work, and I’ve tried them out on all of my phones.  There has been scientific double-blind tests that say don’t waste your money.  You can read the BBC article on them.  They’ll say the same thing.  Great picture of the piece of software that I use on the phone, on an iPhone, in the hand of a tester.  The hand has mosquitoes biting the hand while it is on.

The tester must be like me.  Sweet blood.

I’m debating if I can find a hamster ball and use it to go outside, but until then, I’ll be in my cargo pants.   I’ve heard they’re out of style, but they’re great for one thing.  If I have my smartphone in my pocket, I can set the sound on the mosquito chaser to about 17,000 Hz.   They do great for keeping noisy kids away from me too.